The ATSB today released a request for tender to acquire the services of a specialist company capable of conducting a deep-water search under ATSB direction for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Engaged as a prime contractor, the company will provide the expertise, equipment and vessel(s) necessary to undertake an intensified underwater search for the missing Boeing 777 aircraft in the defined zone in the southern Indian Ocean.
While the precise search zone is currently being established by an international search strategy working group, it is expected that the successful tenderer will search an area up to 60,000 square kilometres based on the 'seventh handshake' arc where the aircraft last communicated with the Inmarsat satellite. Definition of the search zone will be finalised within two to three weeks.
The successful tenderer will localise, positively identify and map the debris field of MH370 using specialist equipment such as towed and autonomous underwater vehicles with mounted sonar and/or optical imaging systems.
The intensified search will begin in August 2014 and is expected to take up to 12 months, depending on weather conditions. The successful tenderer will use the data from a bathymetric survey (already underway) to navigate the search zone, which has water depth between 1000 and 6000 metres.
The search vessel(s) used by the prime contractor may also be coordinated with other vessels also undertaking search activities in the search zone on behalf of other countries.
A copy of the request for tender is available on the AusTender website at
www.tenders.gov.au. Request for tender submissions are due by 5.30pm AEST on 30 June 2014.
At the request of the Malaysian Government, the ATSB is leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.